English translation ↓
Q. Please tell us about what you’ve been doing lately.
The other day, on the 1st of April, 2019 I turned 26!
I never thought that I would spend my 26th birthday in New York.
Lately, I’ve been devoting myself to my studies, my health deteriorated a bit (I’m ok now!) and I regret that my updated was late but,
I was able to safely turn 26 years old.
I had class on the day so, it didn’t really feel like my birthday but, my heart and body were filled with an “Ok, let’s do this” kind of feeling.
But I was happy that I got lots of celebratory words from the members, and my friends, and my family in Japan.
26 years ago, I was born to my parents on the 1st of April, 1993. I’m grateful. I am sure that they have had thoughts and worries that I couldn’t even imagine but, it’s thanks to them that I am able to hold my head high and go on. I hope that I can become a person who can return their kindness one day.
And, to the people who have cheered for, and supported me this far. For making me the person I am now, Keito Okamoto, thank-you so much. Maybe I’m still not a person you can rely on but, I will become someone you can be proud of.
26-year-old Okamoto Keito, is far away but, because I am giving everything to living my life I’d be happy if you supported for me.
Q. What is student life like in America?
A while ago now, I safely finished my second semester at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Every day I take things in, the time that I have spent so far has become my treasure.
The thing I was most interested in this semester was, a subject called Voice & Speech, where we learnt about something called the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet).
The International Phonetic Alphabet, is a code for the true pronunciation of the languages of the World, when you pronounce this code the way it is, no matter what language, you’ll be able to get a more native pronunciation.
It was a surprise but, when I tried teaching Japanese to a teacher who didn’t speak Japanese, they didn’t have that unique accent that foreigners have, there were times that they pronounced words I said exactly as I did, I thought “I want to learn this skill”.
When I first looked at the International Phonetic Alphabet, it was like no code I had ever seen before and I had absolutely no idea how to translate it. But, one by one I remembered the symbols, and I’ve have gradually been able to understand it!
Now, I’m still not perfect but, I’ve learnt how all of the symbols should be pronounced.
With the wonder of the International Phonetic Alphabet, not just the languages of the World, you’re able to learn even the different accents of the English language.
Because it’s not just English, there’s American accents, English accents. Italian accents, French accents, Asian accents, and even just within America there’s New Yorker accents, Texan accents, Californian accents, etc… There are just so many…
They all have things in common, and when you can understand things like the way the consonants are pronounced and the pronunciation of the vowels and the shape and placement of the tongue, you’ll generally be able to learn to pronounce the accent.
For example, (I think there are various opinions but) the difference in the pronunciation of the American “A” and the English “A”, is a change in the placement of the tongue.
Compared to the pronunciation of the American “A”, where the tip of the tongue is behind the lower front teeth, for the English “A” the back part of the tongue lowers. (Is this a bit nerdy?)
So, the when you try to pronounce the word “can’t” with this trick, in American English it’s “caan’t” and in British English it’s “cahn’t” and maybe you’ll be able to hear the difference.
I tried to explain it as best as I could but, it’s hard to understand I’m sorry. I’m bad at explaining… I’ve learnt about these kinds of things in this subject!
Apart from this, there were performance lessons, where we learnt about the Sanford Meisner, and Uta Hagen methods of acting and other various acting techniques, and we had to present a script to the class and teachers in a maximum of 10 minutes. There was a class called “Movement” where, we used the Jaques Lecoq method of acting and wore a mask, and without using our voice or facial expressions we used our bodies to express fog, forests, rivers and mountains. In the “Camera Technique Fundamental” subject, we presented a 3 minute script in front of the cameras every week, and we actually watched the video, and we explored where there were bad parts, and how to express things to show the true circumstances of the script, and whether we were able to become the person who lived within that script in the end.
There were tough times too but, apart from that, it was fun learning new things, and second semester was over in the blink of an eye.
Q. Please tell us about the trips you’ve been on lately.
In mid-February, the school had a lot of holidays so, I went to France, and went to see my Dad’s play “Kafka on the Shore”!
I went to see “Kafka on the Shore” before in 2015 but, I was still filled with a different understanding and feelings to the time before.
It was shown in Japanese but, the viewers were pretty much all locals so, there were subtitles but, the power of the performance overcame the language barrier, and it felt like the energy was communicated but, as a fellow Japanese person, I felt proud.
I was able to have a wonderful experience.
One day I also want to become a person who can overcome the wall of race and language to express anything. That’s what I thought.
But apart from the play, I was glad that I was able to spend some time together with my Dad after such a long time.
And, spending time together like we were on a family trip (even though my Dad wasn’t traveling… Lol) we haven’t done something like that for about 10 years so I’m glad we were able to have a nice time.
The two of us, walked around the streets of Paris, drank coffee at a café, went to view the Picasso Art Gallery, went to a church, went to see the modern ballet at the opera house, ate hot dogs… Lol
Spending time with my Dad, it was really lovely.
Q. Please tell me your New York date plan?
This kind of question is so nostalgic!!
…This is what I’ve come up with myself but Lol
It’ll be fine! Lol
I heard someone say this lately but, now-a-days, it seems that there’s a helicopter that goes from the airport to Manhattan Island so, so first I’ll come and meet you that way!
Under the sweeping skyscrapers of Manhattan, we’ll buy lunch, and go for a walk in Central Park.
And there, we’ll go to my favourite spot “Strawberry Fields” and have a picnic lunch.
After we’ve had our meal, we’ll go to the American Museum of Natural History, and we’ll be amazed looking at the enormous dinosaur fossils together!!
We’ll be like “Oh My God!!”
Since I learnt the IPA, I’ll properly teach you where to put your tongue to pronounce it.
After that, we’ll go to the crossing in Times Square and go to see a show on Broadway!
Dear Evan Hassen is good…
Personally, I love that play!
Maybe, if you can’t understand English, I’ll whisper the translation to you in a tiny, quiet voice.
Maybe, if it’s a nuisance to the other people in the audience, after it’s finished I’ll summarise the whole thing and tell you.
After that, we’ll go to a jazz club in West Village, and listen to a live jazz performance, and talk about all the things we’ve done so far.
…There’s so much I want to do Lol
This was a kinda fun, nostalgic question. Lol
Q. Please tell us your aspirations as a 26-year-old.
As a 26-year-old, I will believe in myself.
I feel that when you believe in yourself, anything can be possible.
Things that seem impossible or, even things that seem like you can never achieve them, when you believe in yourself they feel one step closer.
For example, this is something that you might hear from the people around you, if you continue to follow a path where you believe in yourself, you won’t have any regrets, and I think you’ll be able to see a new path emerge.
So in saying that, my aspiration as a 26-year-old, is to believe in myself.
This was very long and drawn out so thank-you for reading it for me. This is how I am but, please continue to look out for 26-year-old Okamoto Keito too.